All the people. Welcome home, Stephen! Noises of welcome. His mother kissed him. Was that right? His father was a marshal now: higher than a magistrate. Welcome home, Stephen!
There was a noise of curtain-rings running back along the rods, of water being splashed in the basins. There was a noise of rising and dressing and washing in the dormitory: a noise of clapping of hands as the prefect went up and down telling the fellows to look sharp. A pale sunlight showed the yellow curtains drawn back, the tossed beds. His bed was very hot and his face and body were very hot.
He got up and sat on the side of his bed. He was weak. He tried to pull on his stocking. It had a horrid rough feel. The sunlight was queer and cold.
—Are you not well?
He did not know; and Fleming said:
—Get back into bed. I’ll tell McGlade you’re not well.
—Get back into bed.
—Is he sick?
A fellow held his arms while he loosened the stocking clinging to his foot and climbed back into the hot bed.
He crouched down between the sheets, glad of their tepid glow. He heard the fellows talk among themselves about him as they dressed for mass. It was a mean thing to do, to shoulder him into the square ditch, they were saying.
Then their voices ceased; they had gone. A voice at his bed said:
—Dedalus, don’t spy on us, sure you won’t?
Wells’s face was there. He looked at it and saw that Wells was afraid.
—I didn’t mean to. Sure you won’t?
His father had told him, whatever he did, never to
peach on a fellow.
He shook his head and answered no and felt glad.
—I didn’t mean to, honour bright. It was only for cod. I’m sorry.
The face and the voice went away. Sorry because he was afraid. Afraid that it was some disease. Canker was a disease of plants and cancer one of animals: or another different. That was a long time ago then out on the playgrounds in the evening light, creeping from point to point on the fringe of his line, a heavy bird flying low through the grey light. Leicester Abbey lit up. Wolsey died there. The abbots buried him themselves.
It was not Wells’s face, it was the prefect’s. He was not foxing. No, no: he was sick really. He was not foxing. And he felt the prefect’s hand on his forehead; and he felt his forehead warm and damp against the prefect’s cold damp hand. That was the way a rat felt, slimy and damp and cold. Every rat had two eyes to look out of. Sleek slimy coats, little little feet tucked up to jump, black slimy eyes to look out of. They could understand how to jump. But the minds of rats could not understand trigonometry. When they were dead they lay on their sides. Their coats dried then. They were only dead things.